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world war I

  • Robert T. Odeman

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    Born Martin Hoyer, Robert took Robert T. Odeman as his stage name when he began a professional career as an actor and musician. A classical pianist, Robert gave concerts throughout Europe, but a hand injury tragically ended his concert career. 1933-39: In 1935 Robert opened a cabaret in Hamburg. One year later the Nazis shut it down, charging that it was politically subversive. Robert then moved to Berlin where he developed a close relationship with a male friend who was pressured to denounce Robert to…

    Robert T. Odeman
  • Liane Reif

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    Liane's Polish-born Jewish parents were married in Vienna, where they lived in a 14-room apartment in a middle-class neighborhood near the Danube River. Liane's father, a dentist, had his office in their home. 1933-39: After Germany annexed Austria in 1938, Liane's father was found dead, a probable suicide. In May 1939, four months before war broke out, her mother booked passage on the St. Louis, a ship bound for Cuba. But Cuban authorities turned the ship back. Along with some other refugees from the…

    Liane Reif
  • Josef Schoen

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    Josef was born to German Catholic parents. They lived in a Moravian village near the city of Sternberk in a German-inhabited region known as the Sudetenland. At that time Czechoslovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Upon graduation from a textile school, Josef supervised 600 employees at a silk factory in Moravska Trebova. 1933-39: After serving in the Czechoslovak army, Josef became a Jehovah's Witness in Prague, and refused to have anything more to do with the military, following the…

    Josef Schoen
  • Ivo Herzer

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    Ivo was an only child born to a Jewish family in the city of Zagreb. His father worked in an insurance company. Though blatant antisemitism was considered uncommon in Yugoslavia, Jews were barred from government and university positions unless they converted to Christianity. 1933-39: In Zagreb Ivo studied at a public secondary school. The curriculum was fixed and included three languages as well as religion. His school was highly selective but he enjoyed studying and did well. Though he didn't personally…

    Ivo Herzer
  • Sylvia Winawer

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    Sylvia's Jewish-born parents had converted to Christianity as young adults, and Sylvia was raised in the Christian tradition. Mr. Winawer was a successful lawyer and the family lived in an apartment in the center of Warsaw. Sylvia's mother collected art. 1933-39: Sylvia attended a private school run by the Lutheran Church, and she loved her school and classmates. When she was 9, her parents brought her the most wonderful "present"--a new sister! Two years later life changed when the Germans invaded Poland…

    Sylvia Winawer
  • Monique Jackson

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    Monique's Jewish parents met in Paris. Her father had emigrated there from Russia to study engineering, and her mother had come from Poland as a young child. Monique's father did not have enough money to finish university, so he went to work as an upholsterer. He also shared a small business which sold his hand-tooled leather purses. 1933-39: Monique's mother was 20 when she gave birth to Monique in 1937. Two years later, Parisians were threatened by the possibility of bombing by the Germans, and French…

    Monique Jackson
  • Josephine Kohn Dermer

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    Josephine, known affectionately as Pepi, and her brother and three sisters were raised in Vienna. Her father traded in furs and her mother was a homemaker. Only a few years after Pepi married, her husband died unexpectedly and she was left to care for their young son, Fred. She and her son moved in with her widowed father. 1933-39: Pepi spent much of her time with her sister Helene. Helene's husband was a Singer sewing machine representative, and in the summer of 1937 Pepi and Fred joined him and Helene…

    Tags: Vienna Belgium
    Josephine Kohn Dermer
  • Samuel Zoltan

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    Samuel's parents immigrated to Palestine when he was very young. They lived in Rishon le Zion, the first settlement in Palestine founded by Jews from outside of Palestine. After graduating from high school, Samuel became active in a movement challenging the British mandate in Palestine. 1933-39: Samuel was expelled from Palestine in 1936 because of his outspoken criticism of the British mandate. He went to France and then to Spain just after the civil war began. Samuel fought for three years with the…

    Samuel Zoltan
  • Gertrud Teppich

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    Gertrud, born Gertrud Herz, was one of three children born to a Jewish family in the German capital of Berlin. In her early twenties, Gertrud married Richard Teppich and the couple had two daughters. Richard owned and operated a dry-cleaning business. 1933-39: When Gertrud's husband died in 1931 she stayed on in their Berlin apartment. In 1938, five years after the Nazis came to power, Gertrud's oldest daughter, Ilse, and her family fled to Amsterdam. A year later her youngest daughter was able to leave…

    Tags: Berlin
    Gertrud Teppich
  • Ida Edelstein

    ID Card

    Ida, born Ida Kohn, was the oldest of four children born to a Jewish family in the village of Hostoun, near Prague. Her father owned a grocery store in the village, and also recorded the birth, death and marriage certificates in the Jewish community. In 1912 Ida married Josef Edelstein and they moved to Vienna. By 1920 the couple had a son, Wilhelm, and a daughter, Alice. 1933-39: In March 1938 the Germans annexed Austria. In the next few weeks, Ida, along with other Jews, was forced to scrub sidewalks.…

    Ida Edelstein
  • Eva Gredinger

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    Eva was one of three children born to Jewish parents in Vertujeni, a Bessarabian town that was 90 percent Jewish. Eva attended a public school. Her family was religious, attending synagogue every day. Eva's father made his living as a kosher butcher, preparing chicken according to Jewish dietary laws. 1933-39: In 1936, when Eva was 15 years old, her family moved to Vysoka, where she later got a job as a seamstress. Vysoka was very different from her hometown. There were only about 15 Jewish families in…

    Tags: Romania
    Eva Gredinger
  • Maria Orlicka

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    Maria was born to a poor family in the industrial town of Jaworzno, not far from Krakow, in southwestern Poland. Both of Maria's parents worked. Like her parents, Maria was baptized in the Roman Catholic faith. 1933-39: Maria took care of the house when her parents were working. She was 11 years old when the Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. German troops reached Jaworzno that same month. Jaworzno was in an area of Poland that became formally annexed to Germany. 1940-44: The Germans arrested…

    Maria Orlicka
  • Gertruda Nowak

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    Gertruda was one of five children born to a poor family in the rural community of Zegrowek in western Poland. The Nowaks lived near Gertruda's grandparents. Like their parents, Sylwester and Joanna Nowak, the Nowak children were baptized in the Roman Catholic faith. 1933-39: As a young girl, Gertruda helped with chores around the house, and after school she looked after her younger brothers and sisters. She was 9 years old when the Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Nazi troops reached Zegrowek…

    Gertruda Nowak
  • Hanandel Drobiarz

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    Hanandel was raised with his three brothers and sisters in the town of Kozlow, where his family sold grain and livestock. The family was religious, and they observed the Sabbath and all Jewish holidays and dietary laws. When Hanandel was 5, he began studying Hebrew, the Bible, prayers, and Jewish history. 1933-39: At age 14 Hanandel was apprenticed to his uncle in Sosnowiec as a tinsmith. He worked for his uncle during the day and attended trade school at night. When he graduated from trade school he…

    Hanandel Drobiarz
  • Bernhard Liebster

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    Bernhard, who was from a religious Jewish family in the Polish town of Oswiecim, emigrated as a young man to Frankfurt, Germany. There he married Bertha Oppenheimer from the nearby town of Reichenbach. They settled in Reichenbach where they were one of 13 Jewish families. Bernhard worked as a shoemaker, and the couple raised three children. 1933-39: In a corner of his living room, Bernhard ran a small shop specializing in orthopedic shoes. Antisemitism was growing in Germany, but the townspeople of…

    Bernhard Liebster
  • Vladan Popovic

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    Vladan was the oldest of five children born to well-to-do Serbian Orthodox parents in the village of Gnjilane in the Serbian part of Yugoslavia. Vladan went to Montpelier, France, where he earned a law degree from the university. When Vladan returned to Yugoslavia, he worked as an attorney in Belgrade. He married and had one daughter. 1933-39: Vladan's wife died in 1933, and his 4-year-old daughter went to live with her maternal great-aunt. Meanwhile, Vladan had expanded his law practice and was…

    Vladan Popovic
  • Itka Wlos

    ID Card

    Itka was raised in a Yiddish-speaking, religious Jewish family in Sokolow Podlaski, a manufacturing town in central Poland with a large Jewish population of about 5,000. Itka came from a poor family. After completing her public schooling in Sokolow Podlaski at the age of 14, she began to work. 1933-39: Itka was a young woman, unmarried and living with her parents when war between Germany and Poland broke out on September 1, 1939. German aircraft bombed Sokolow Podlaski's market and other civilian targets…

    Itka Wlos
  • Danuta Justyna

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    Danuta was born to Roman Catholic parents in the small industrial town of Piotrkow Trybunalski in central Poland. Her father and mother were school teachers. She and her younger sister, Maria, became friends with two Jewish girls, Sabina and Helena Szwarc. Although their houses were more than a mile apart, the girls often played together. 1933-39: Danuta was planning on attending college in September 1939, but on September 1 Germany invaded Poland. Four days later, German soldiers streamed into Danuta's…

    Danuta Justyna
  • Kazimiera Banach Justynowa

    ID Card

    Kazimiera was born to Roman Catholic parents in the town of Mierzen. After graduating from a teacher's college in Staniatki, she married Wincenty Justyna, a secondary school teacher. The couple settled in the small industrial city of Piotrkow Trybunalski and raised three children, Jerzy (a boy), Danuta and Maria. Kazimiera worked as a school teacher. 1933-39: With their combined incomes the Justynas were able to buy a plot of land and build a house. The Germans invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, and…

    Kazimiera Banach Justynowa
  • Kato Fried

    ID Card

    Kato was born to Jewish parents in Smolnik, a small village in eastern Czechoslovakia. While still a young child, she moved with her parents and brother Theodore to Sighet, Romania. There in the Carpathian mountains, her father ran a lumber business that exported wood to Germany and Czechoslovakia. 1933–39: In the 1930s, the popular appeal of antisemitism and fascism increased in Romania. Leaders of the Iron Guard, the militant and violent Romanian fascist party, publicly proclaimed their support for…

    Kato Fried
  • Chaya Szabasson Rubinstein

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    In 1930 Chaya married Mordecai Rubinstein, a businessman, and moved with him from her hometown of Kozienice to the nearby city of Radom. Chaya had been raised in a religious, Yiddish-speaking Jewish family, and her father owned a lumber mill near the Kozienice birch forest. In Radom, Chaya's husband operated a small bus line. 1933-39: Chaya gave birth to a daughter, Gila, in 1933. In the mid 1930s the Rubinsteins moved back to Kozienice. There, they were trapped when German troops invaded [Poland] in…

    Chaya Szabasson Rubinstein
  • Israel Milkow

    ID Card

    Israel was born to a religious Jewish family living in the town of Slonim. He was called Yisroel by his Yiddish-speaking parents. Israel's father, Lazar Milkow, was a baker who supported his family on a meager income. 1937-39: Israel's grandparents and many of his mother's relatives lived in a nearby village called Kaslovchina. Each summer one of the Milkow boys was invited to stay in Kaslovchina with their Uncle Herschel who worked as a farmer and horse trader. In September 1939 Slonim became part of the…

    Israel Milkow
  • Inge Scheer

    ID Card

    Inge grew up in Vienna's Leopoldstadt, a large Jewish district located between the banks of the Danube Canal and the Danube River. The Scheers loved music, and Inge grew up listening to family members singing selections from popular operettas. 1933-39: Inge was 8 years old when the Germans annexed Austria in 1938 and her parents decided they'd better flee. They were smuggled illegally, via the Netherlands, to Brussels where the Jewish community helped to hide illegal refugees like Inge and her family.…

    Inge Scheer
  • Marthijn Wijnberg

    ID Card

    When Marthijn was 10, his religious Jewish family moved from Groningen to the town of Zwolle. There, his parents ran the only kosher hotel in the region. The Wijnbergs had two other sons and a daughter. All of the children attended Dutch public schools, and four afternoons a week they also went to religious school to study Jewish history, Hebrew and the Bible. 1933-39: Marthijn could play almost any instrument, including piano, saxophone and accordion. Sometimes each of his brothers would pick up an…

    Marthijn Wijnberg
  • Edith Goldman Bielawski

    ID Card

    Edith's parents owned a cotton factory in the town of Wegrow [in Poland]. The Goldmans were a religious family, and raised Edith, her brother and three sisters to strictly observe the Sabbath, Jewish holidays and the dietary laws. 1933-39: Edith attended public school, and also studied at the Beis Yakov religious school for girls where she learned Hebrew, the Bible and Jewish history. Her favorite hobby was knitting, and after finishing secondary school she learned the quilt-making trade. In the…

    Tags: Warsaw hiding
    Edith Goldman Bielawski

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